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The Caregivers Cairn: Gratitude is a Life Changing Attitude

Jane Barton

Greetings one and all…

This morning I am particularly thankful for my home, my family, and my life. I’m not surprised. Gratitude often grows in the aftermath of adversity—one of the blessings to be embraced following challenging times in life. No doubt, the past 4 months have certainly been challenging for my family and me. In addition to a nonstop schedule of presentations and events, two of our beloved cats recently died of renal failure following months of intensive care. Heartbreaking! However, I failed to recognize my level of distress until I ended up in Urgent Care this past weekend with chest pain and shortness of breath. After a myriad of tests, we eliminated the frightening possibilities of heart attack, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism—thank goodness! Seems as if I have a viral infection that inflamed the lining of my lungs—pleurisy. My immune system has been compromised by stress and fatigue. The prognosis is for a full recover in the very near future. The plan of care entails medications, a week of rest, and patience. As I walked out of the clinic Sunday evening, gratitude for my life filled every pore of my being. I have SO much for which to be grateful.

As a consultant, the thought of clearing my calendar for 7-10 days was initially disconcerting. However, my clients were incredibly gracious and compassionate when hearing of my situation. All expressed concern and offered prayers for my speedy recovery. Consequently, I cleared the decks in short order thus alleviating a tremendous amount of stress. Once again, I am grateful beyond words for such caring spirits in this world.

While sitting in Urgent Care and awaiting the test results, I started receiving emails and text messages from friends. I was so grateful for their support as well as their prayers for favorable results. At that point, my best friend and I were scared—not knowing what the various tests might reveal. It was comforting to realize we were not alone.

On the home front, I am grateful for a caring and compassionate family—which obviously includes furry family members! My housemate and best friend keeps me on the straight and narrow—highlighting the importance of adhering to the plan of care. Admittedly, I get a bit impatient! So, I am grateful for the gentle reminders to take one step at a time. And the dogs and cat are THE best caregivers ever! Attentive, loving, and caring. They are ready and willing to snooze with me at a moment’s notice. A purr-fect plan of care according to my feline caregiver!

So today, I am filled with gratitude for a myriad of reasons. Although slowing down is difficult for me, this quiet time affords me the opportunity “to be” — to be grateful! And that is a very good thing indeed. With a renewed appreciation for my health, vocation, family, friends, and faith, I choose to live in a way that enriches my body, my mind, and my spirit. One step at a time, adversity morphs into opportunity.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, enjoy the moment...Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at and we will be in touch soon!

Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.

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